Mentorship program aims to diversify health care field

Michigan

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A new partnership between West Michigan colleges and high schools is working to get more people from underrepresented groups into health care careers.

The Health Careers Pipeline Program is bringing together Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

Spectrum Health is providing $50,000 in funding over five years.

Dr. Nicholas Cozzi, a chief resident of emergency medicine with Spectrum Health, hopes the mentorship program will help increase diversity in medical professions and improve care in rural and underserved areas.

“We’ve invested in young people and specifically ninth and 10th graders within the West Michigan community to give them three things: an exposure to health career opportunities, personal growth as well as an opportunity to be college ready,” Cozzi said.

They will match high school students with undergraduate students for a seven-week program run by the MSU medical students.

“We decided to make the one-to-one relationship with the student in undergraduate just a couple years ahead of that high school student,” Cozzi said.

Cozzi says developing a more diverse talent pool is needed to better serve all communities in West Michigan.

“We have to build teams that are more emblematic and more representative of our communities and in order to do that, we have to build relationships with students early on so they see people who have grown up in communities just like themselves,” Cozzi said.

The program hopes to help counter barriers to students like financial challenges and provide support, guidance and inspiration.

“Unlocking the mind or unlocking the spirit of our young people within our community, to help build a bridge,” Cozzi said.

The program is currently taking applications and will begin in February.

For more information, you can visit the WMU program’s website.

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